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Bingley Bailey Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Hills; Castle Fields; Bayley Hill

In the civil parish of Bingley.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of Bradford.
1974 county of West Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE10124001
Latitude 53.85624° Longitude -1.84758°

Bingley Bailey Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.


The Hills is a possible ringwork and bailey. (King ref. pers. corr S.A. Moorhouse)

Site of a possible Iron Age settlement. Stone walls and banks of earth and stone were recorded at Bailey Hills. The site is now occupied by a cemetery extension and a school playing field, there are no visible remains of a settlement. (PastScape)

A long mound commences on the north-west side of the church and rises towards the cemetery. This single deposit occupies all the ground between the river on the west and the railway on the east running north-west and south-east for 46 chains (about half-a-mile), and is 20 chains at its broadest part. The maximum depth above normal river level is about 70 feet. Its northern boundary is limited by the river-bend at Ravenroyd to Castlefields Mill, and the reason why the river has not followed a straight and natural course along the valley on the east side of the hill where the railway runs, is owing to the thick spreads of gravel, which rising towards Crossfiatts, have baulked the river and compelled it to cut a fresh channel by the lower level on the west side of the town. This extensive mound, called Bailey Hills, was at one time undoubtedly an island and a secure refuge of the early inhabitants. It was bounded on the west by the river and on the east by an extensive lake which continued impassably wet until the making of the railway in 1846. (Speight p. 20)

On The Hills, in a field next the cemetery (the site of the traditional "castle"), is a camp-like enclosure, occupying a flat hollow of about 1,600 square yards. It is bounded on the north and west sides by a raised fence, that on the north side falling deeply and sharply to the enclosure, and affording capital shelter on that side. In the field beyond, parallel with the wall separating the Grammar School land (now the Show Field) and Mr. Butler's estate, is a rampart-like bank, partly natural, extending from the school buildings right across the hill to the river, and is nearly complete all the way, a length of about 200 yards, in some places being 20 feet above the natural field-level. The north face has, no doubt, sloped naturally, but has been cut back into a precipitous front, while old ash and sycamore trees, with boles four or five feet in circumference, grow upon it, proving, at any rate, that the hill was scarped or cut back before any house or building was built on the Hills. It is a kind of defence, natural or artificial, that one may expect to find in such a place, being to the north, whence danger came, and appears of similar import to those extensive lines of earth and stones that are found stretching across many of the Yorkshire dales. (Speight p. 48)

In its current name Bailey Hill refers to a large long low natural ridge some 500m in length and up to 100m wide (Speight calling this 'a mound' may have cause confusion, although his detailed description is accurate). It should be noted that the tradition site of the 'castle' is not the same as The Hills (which was a house and field occupying a small part of Bailey Hill). There may be some confusion in records between the two sites. Speight reports the find of traces 'an ancient wall' 50 yards east on the chapel (this being, presumably, one of the two mortuary chapels in the cemetery) also the location of the find of a hand mill (?date). The area had been disturbed in the C17 by lime-burners, so there was a stone building here but of what form and date is unknown and the building of a cemetery will have only further destroyed any archaeology.
It is suggested, in the HER record, that the name Bailey is associated with Bailiff, an estate manager. It may be possibly that a relatively low status bailiffs house, but probably still with the manorial court, was located within an existing earthwork, or even existed without artificial defences. The close location to the church may also suggest this was the site of a Saxon manor house (with the suggestion that either the potential defences were Saxon or the Saxon's had reused IA works). However, Speight was of the opinion that the Bailey placename was an ancient Celtic element (Gaelic baile - farm, hamlet, homestead OS Guide to Gaelic origins of place names in Britain)
Given map reference is for the Hills. The location of 'Old Castle (supposed site of)' marked on 1851 OS map is at SE10203978. This, itself is some 50-100 m from the report walls recorded in Speight. Despite the PastScape report the area of The Hills is not occupied by the cemetery extension or school playfields, although it is in the grounds of the school.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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